-To begin with how is the band doing (both health and mood) during these lockdown days? How are you holding up? I hope you all are doing good.
A1: Thank you for asking Metal Brother, we are all hanging in there like everyone else, just taking it day by day!! Hope you and yours are staying healthy and that also goes out to all the readers and Fans!!
-How has the whole situation affected your plans for the release of the album and the whole promotional stuff?
A2: I don’t think it has changed anything yet, it’s all on schedule for 5/29/2020 release date, and I am sure it’s going to ship on time, No Remorse Records will make sure of that! Promotional material is also moving right along and thank you for helping with that my Metal Brother, these Interviews help get the word out also!!
-Dwelling further on this, you are back with a new album entitled «Full Metal Jacket». Tell us about how did this album born after such a long time without recording any new material. When did you say «let’s go»?
A3: Well, that’s a long story, but the fact is without label support (money) you have to find ways of recording an album on your own and we chose to purchase pretty much everything we needed to do this on our own, then record, mix and do this over a few years. I don’t live in Cleveland but outside of Pittsburgh and that’s almost 200 km away, so let’s just say, it took forever!! That «Let’s go» moment happened right after «HOA 2010» when we returned to the States!! We needed to find the money and time to do this recording on our own, to let us stay in control of our music!!
-About the band, besides Ken and Vic the rest of the members have been with you since 2009, so we could say after 10 years the album is a product of a seasoned band. How have you all fitted together when it comes to recording? And who handles most part of the songwriting or arranges the final details?
A4: Screamin’ (Ken Erb) and I are in our early 60’s the other mates are in their 40’s, they live in Cleveland and grew up Shok Paris fans, they know our music inside and out and know exactly what we want when writing new tunes!! They make it so easy! Great guys!! It could not have worked out any better!!! Screamin’ comes up with all the guitar parts and riffs, he basically comes up with the music and we’ll play it together at rehearsal so everyone can add their parts. I like to listen and start feeling the melody lines and vocal ideas, sometimes like with the song «Hell Day» Screamin’ will give me lyrics and I go with them with my melody lines or a mixture of his. This one, I liked it just as he did them perfect!!
-By just having a look at both the title and the cover artwork it is clear you are not going to disappoint, and by listening to the intro I see there’s a worldplay with the movie «Full Metal Jacket», am I wrong?
A5: You are correct, Screamin’ had the basic song done music wise, and sent it to me in a music file just for identification purposes, he called it Full Metal Jacket. I liked the name and started working on the idea and melodies! The song is roughly based on the old soldiers beliefs, that the bullet that gets you on the battlefield, has your name on it, because the battlefield has so many bullets flying around that never hits you! The lyrics are about that special bullet and how the Full Metal Jacket round Rules the Battlefield!! The Intro is based on the movie and the Marines Creed, as for the Artwork for the cover, the Lady fills out that really «FULL, METAL Jacket» is a Play on words, that’s where the Peace sign and Dog Tags come in, more movie stuff !! Metal is all about that!!
-I have had the chance of listening to the album and of reviewing it and I have honestly enjoyed it a lot. It is very loyal to what we were used from you back in the 80’s, with that blend of threatening Metal with quite US Metal sounding melodies. Did you have a clear idea that was the sound you wanted?
A6: It’s Shok Paris, it’s who we are, it’s all we know, that was our game plan from the beginning, be who we are and write what we know, that’s what we do!! All we can do is put it out there and see if anyone else likes it!! This ain’t hair Metal, it’s Classic Old School Hard Rock/Metal we grew up listening to in the late 70’s early 80’s, music is Great when you enjoy what you’re doing and others enjoy it also, that’s why we do this!! We wouldn’t have it any other way!! You can’t be something you’re not!! So Crank it up!!
-What were your feelings after listening to what you had recorded? Were you pleased with the final outcome? Tell us a litle bit about the production process. How was it like to be back in the studio as a band and what’s your opinion on the end product?
A7: Well we did it all ourselves, yes it took forever, it’s not perfect, but music never is, we did the best we could with what we had, we wanted to be happy with it and we are, the key is, what are fans and those that love this style of music think, I really hope we made them Proud!! We will keep Defending the Faith no matter what!!
-It’s obvious that, as I mentioned earlier, you have followed the style of your old trademark sound. The album keeps that sharp Metal from your debut album, the theatrical elements and those Prog hints you had on «Steel and Starlight» and the melody of «Concrete Killers». Is this newest record the proper evolution? Which one of your earlier albums do you think feels resonates better with this new one or as I do myself do you consider it a mix of all your previous material??
A8: It stands in line with the others albums because it is us, it is the next follow-up to the others, different yet the same, sadly it took 31 years, we write as a team Screamin’and I, like we did in the past, he inspires me with his style and music and I responded to that, it’s just that simple!! I prefer to let our fans decide where it belongs in that line of Shok Paris albums, I will tell you there are more to come!!
-As I have the chance of interviewing you I would like to review your history a little. You were founded in Ohio (Cleveland) around 1982. How was SHOK PARIS born and how were those early days when a guy has a band and wants to put a first record out?
A9: Yes the band started in 1982, it was started by Ken Erb, Bill Sabo and Eric Marderwald, they then found Kell Berkshire and tried several singers out! In 83, I was playing in a metal cover band and hooked up with Kell, he stated they were looking for a singer and I wanted to give it a shot!! We did a rehearsal doing covers and they liked what I did! They had all of the music done and two songs with lyrics, the other 8 songs were mine to write the lyrics for! In a month I showed back up for rehearsal in Cleveland and did my parts and a month or so later, we started preparing to record «Go for the Throat»!! It came together that quick!!
-Your first singer was a guy called Eric Reeves, but soon Vic Hix came on board. I don’t know how good Eric was, but Vic is a powerhouse. How did he fit in and how did Vic land on SHOK PARIS? And what happened with Eric?
A10: I really don’t know much about him, the guy I knew was Buddy McCormick, he sang «Go Down Fighting» on the Cleveland Metal Album, I listened to that song, so that when I had a chance to sing it, I did the Vic Hix vocal version to impress the band at my second rehearsal! It did the job!! I really can’t tell you what happened to the other 2 guys!!
-Your first album finally came out in 1984, entitled «Go for the Throat». How were those days like? Those feelings of finally having an album out. And what about the very first gigs?
A11: We are talking about Metal being king in those days, Metal was on the radio, MTV was happening, the Cleveland Metal scene was in it’s hay day!! Metal ruled the world and it was a blast!!! We did shows in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit and Buffalo! All within driving distance of Cleveland on a weekend! It kept us playing sharp and kept the name Shok Paris out there!!
-3 years went by until 1986, when «Steel and Starlight» came out. It is my favourite album. It has that metalized touch but with more lyrical vocals and a bigger atmosphere, reminding me of bands such as QUEENSRYCHE or CRIMSON GLORY. How was this period like, with your sophomore album out? And what did it mean to you?
A12: We played the new songs out along with all the songs from «Go for the Throat» just to see if what we were writing would win over the Metalheads and it did, we had to step it up a notch with Steel n’Starlight, other bands in Cleveland were stepping it up and were «Hot on our Heels»!! And we had to keep it Rockin’ and let everyone else know, we mean business!!
-I remember during those days not many underground bands from the USA arrived to Spain, you had to request them, and I recall those magazines were they wrote about US Metal and they mentioned acts like yourself, CHASTAIN, HELSTAR, MALICE, WARRIOR, VICIOUS RUMORS, etc. Did it exist a movement, like the NWOBHM in the UK, where there was this union between bands? With what other bands did SHOK PARIS have connection with back then?
A13: Not at all, no union here, it was every band for itself! We may have played with each other and talked Metal and stuff, but when you got on the stage, you did everything you could to show your band was better than the other bands, it was total competition!! That’s the American way!! You either, «Go for the Throat, or Go Down Fighting» so to speak!! That’s the «Nature of the Beast» my friend!!
-Already in 1989 you released your last album from that first period, «Concrete Killers». This time with producer Kevin Beamish (SAXON, LEATHERWOLF), who gave the album a more melodic sound. How was this recording and making the sound cleaner and give it a more accessible touch, if that’s the word?
A14: Well to me it took away some of that Shok Paris Power and Grace, he changed songs, rewrote lyrics, he made us softer, if you ask me, he did more harm than good! It was more about him and less about us!! But that’s what the Record label wanted and paid him to get!! It was us, but it wasn’t us if you get my drift!!
-For how long did the band last after this last album? How were those days like? How did you end up splitting up and how were those years during which you were inactive? Until you reunited I only know about the albums that Vic put out as AFTERSHOK during the early 00’s.
A15: Well not too long after Concrete Killers, we got off the road with Lizzy Borden, we where told another tour would be coming, but it never did, I was very unhappy with IRS the label, I asked them to pay us while we were not touring, just enough money to pay for the rehearsal space so we could write new material and stay sharp for the next tour, help us with those costs, we all had to find new day jobs, that happened every time the tours ended, it made no sense!! They said no way, and I walked away from the Label, and the band did not back me up, so I had enough and I walked away from everything!! It was all on me!!
-As I said earlier, I was a young boy who enjoyed exploring Metal. During the 80’s it was difficult to get rare material, but now I know a lot of young kids that I meet at European festivals and here in Spain, who are SHOK PARIS diehards. Do you think thanks to the Internet, you and other cult bands have been able to reactivate your careers?
A16: Yes, exactly, the internet has really helped fans from around the world, rediscovered Shok Paris and many other bands, it has been a Great help getting fans in touch with us!! And Facebook has also helped fans contact the band also!!
-I was lucky enough to watch you at Keep it True. It was amazing. What are your memories from that show and from the rest of the shows you played after reuniting?
A17: It is truly those shows that have resurrected Shok Paris!! BYH, HOA, KIT and UTH have all breathed live back into the band, they gave us Europe and the rest of the world there fans come from everywhere, they gave us meaning, they gave us life, they brought our fans back from all over the world to see us, we are thankful for them for inviting us!! Because of these shows, and of course our fans, very soon, you will all have a new Shok Paris CD, in your hand and it is «FULL METAL JACKET»!!!
-And on a view to the future, do you plan to continue recording? Were there any leftovers or have you worked on new songs? And how’s your schedule for when all this pandemic situation is over?
A18: As it stands, we are planning another resurrection so to speak, that of an old EP, to Full Length Album, «Decharge Electricque» we would like to re-record those songs and add more songs we have written since, and use this album as a follow-up to «FMJ» it looks like no shows for us until 2021 because of the virus, so we will have time to put it all together I think, so hopefully we will see you all in 2021, playing old and new material at all of these Great Metal Festivals!! Hope to see you all there, Horns Up Metal Brothers and Sisters!!
-That’s all from our side. It’s been a pleasure to listen to the album and to talk to you. We hope to see you in Spain. If you’d like to add something else, feel free to do it.
Thank you Metal Brother for your support and giving me time to address your questions and to give our fans this interview, Shok Paris Thanks you all!! May we one day play Spain, sounds like Shok Paris needs to do a show there one day, we can’t wait, until then, keep Defending the Faith and «Hold those Metal Hammers High»!! 🤘🤘